The Roman Catholic Bishop of Kosovo Dode Gjergji and the retired Bishop of Bar Zef Gashi with their clergy and a group of believers served a mass on Thursday at the remains of the Orthodox Christian cathedral of St. Nicholas in the vicinity of the Novo Brdo medieval fortress, KoSSev portal reports.
As it was announced, the mass was held in commemoration of August 1 – the (Albanian) Diaspora Day and, for the very first time, at the “Catholic Church of St. Nicholas.” The mass was attended by the head of the Kosovo Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments, Ismet Hajrullahu.
The Eparchy of Raska-Prizren has reacted to this occurrence expressing “deep disappointment“ over this “abuse and provocation.” The Eparchy announced it will seek protection from local and international institutions, as well as raise the issue with the Vatican.
Serbian history and Christianity consider the same church as a Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) and the cathedral church for the medieval Serbian Orthodox bishops of Novo Brdo and Gracanica.
The Diocese of Raska-Prizren is deeply disappointed with this apparent act of abuse of the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Serbian Orthodox Church, on a site founded and built by medieval Serbian rulers, which has been noted in numerous professional and historical literatures, both domestic and foreign. Preserved stone-work artifacts with inscriptions from the Church of Saint Nicholas make it clear whose church it is, the Eparchy said in a statement.
The Eparchy warned that by serving mass on the grounds of the Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kosovo seriously undermines hitherto fairly correct interfaith relations in Kosovo and Metohija and politicizes the heritage of the SOC, which, under Ahtisaari plan and at the proposal of our Church, was included in the Special Protective Zone with the consent of Kosovo Albanian representatives”.
The Eparchy confirmed that the remains of a medieval Roman Catholic church known as the “Saxon Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary” are located not far from the Orthodox church. According to the Eparchy, this church was built and used by Saxon miners and merchants of Dubrovnik with the consent of the Serbian medieval rulers.
“It is quite a reasonable question why the Roman Catholic bishops and their believers did not gather on the remains of their former church, but did so on the foundations of the Orthodox cathedral of Novo Brdo, the ancient seats of the Orthodox Serbian Metropolitans of Novo Brdo,” the Eparchy of Raska-Prizren underlined.
The Eparchy expressed its gravest concern and disagreement with Kosovo and international institutions due to “unauthorized works” by the Kosovo Ministry of Culture (institute for Archeology) at this medieval Serbian Orthodox site as well. They recalled that this church is “located within the Special Protected Zone of Novo Brdo where all works without specific consent are prohibited”.
In addition, the Eparchy noted that after the clearing of the ground the Kosovo archaeologists also recently opened medieval tombs in the church “without authorization and with no expertise erected pillars in the central part of the church.”
The Eparchy of Raska-Prizren will once again request from competent international and local institutions to protect the location of the church of St. Nicholas from “further provocations.”
“Pristina authorities have already been severely criticized for not respecting religious rights of the SOC in the latest U.S. State Department report, which only confirms that this latest provocation is no exception,” the Eparchy concluded.
Raska-Prizren Eparchy statement can be seen at: http://www.eparhija-prizren.com/en/statements/roman-catholic-mass-served-grounds-orthodox-church-st-nicholas-novo-brdo-diocese-raska-pr
KoSSev article on this issue can be seen at: https://kossev.info/eparchy-of-raska-prizren-reacts-to-the-mass-held-at-st-nicholas-church-diocese-of-kosovo-seriously-undermines-hitherto-fairly-correct-interfaith-relations-in-kosovo/